Kerim at Keywords turned me on to this great post at Savage Minds about the First Formosan in Europe — a European fraudster….

Sometimes I stumble upon a link that forces me to drop all of my work and
shift my focus entirely. Such was the case when after lunch I learned of
George Psalmanazar, “the first Formosan to visit Europe.”

“In 1704, Psalmanazar published a book An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan which revealed a number of strange habits. Formosa was a prosperous country of wealth with capital city called Xternetsa. Men walked naked except for a gold or silver plate to cover their privates. Their main food was a serpent that they hunt with branches. Formosans were polygamous and the husband had a right to eat their wives for infidelity. They executed murderers by hanging them upside down and shooting them full of arrows. Annually they sacrificed the hearts of 18,000 young boys to gods and priest ate the bodies. They also used horses and camels for mass transportation. The book also
described the Formosan alphabet. Of course, it was all a hoax.”

In fact, I came across it via this Ishbaddidle post linking to the 10 Greatest Impostors in History.

Interesting stuff!